As your brand grows up, don’t lose that connection to your customers. Sure, you might not be able to personally write a “thank you” to include in every order. That’s ok. There are solutions that allow you to scale while maintaining that connection to your customers.
Brian Weinstein: Welcome, everybody, to Sippin’ & Shippin’. I’m your host, Brian Weinstein. We’ll be kicking it here every third Thursday, quenching your thirst for an insider’s take at trending ways to enhance your customer’s experience. So grab your drink of choice and kick back, it’s Sippin’ & Shippin’ time. All right. Welcome, everybody, to another episode of Sippin’ & Shippin’. I’m here today as always with Caitlin Postel.
Caitlin Postel: Hey, everybody.
Brian Weinstein: Keeping me company as she does. And today we have Robert Escobar from Camino Real Group. How are you, Robert?
Robert Escobar: I’m great. How’s it going, Brian, Caitlin?
Brian Weinstein: I’m doing well.
Caitlin Postel: Doing well.
Brian Weinstein: And so, Robert and I go back quite a few years, actually, quite many years at this point. I think it’s got to be almost 10 years, Robert, right?
Robert Escobar: I believe 10 years. I think it’s probably from, yeah, you’re close though, 2010, I think.
Brian Weinstein: Yes. Now I wish I could say I was young 10 years ago, but I really wasn’t, but here we are. We’re still here, which is always good news. So, let’s start out today, Caitlin, what do you got? What are you drinking?
Caitlin Postel: I’m being brave today. I will be probably up all night, but I was excited for the show. So I have a nice cup of Matcha Green Tea here.
Brian Weinstein: Very nice. Very nice. So, this is a day show. So we’re behaving ourselves, no mixed drinks, nothing in my coffee. Today, I am just going very simple. I went a Donut Shop pod. That’s it, just nice and simple. This is what you do when you’re down and dirty and I’m back in the office. So, that’s where we are. And, Robert, what do you have?
Robert Escobar: Well, as I might have mentioned before, I gave up coffee for Lent and also because I was too hyper working from home, so I moved to tea. And right now, I’m just down to drinking plain old water, but I’ve been a tea drinker most of my life as well. So I just enjoy that in the morning and throughout the day. So, Caitlin, I’m a Loongese. My preference though is a latte chai tea, which is just always my go to.
Caitlin Postel: Nice. Yeah, that’s always a nice little treat.
Brian Weinstein: Robert, do you get, when you’re working from home, I always get the, “Shh. The whole house doesn’t have to hear you.” Are you that same way? Is that what the coffee does to you?
Robert Escobar: Absolutely. Absolutely. And I have to explain to my wife that I’m not loud, I’m just passionate.
Brian Weinstein: Right.
Caitlin Postel: Yes. Fulfillment, this is very exciting stuff.
Robert Escobar: Very exciting stuff. And for people listening, they don’t know that I’m on the West Coast and I work with a lot of East Coast and European companies. So I’m up really early, as early as 5:00 AM my time here. So, I have to be very careful and aware how loud my voice is because everybody’s still sleeping here. So I go to, sometimes, the corner of the garage or the corner of the laundry room just to keep it down, the minimum, you know?
Brian Weinstein: Yeah. Yeah. For sure. I just project, I think for me, it’s just my natural projection and I’m not trying to be loud. It’s my normal speaking voice. And that’s why, then I feel like I’m being really self-conscious and talking quietly and my family just doesn’t get it. So COVID, in that respect has not been easy for us to navigate, so much so that I think I forced my wife back to the office sooner than she would’ve liked to. But it is what it is. We figured it out.
Robert Escobar: Yeah.
Brian Weinstein: Good. So, today we want to talk about just really some experiences for young entrepreneurs coming out, launching brands, because I know, Robert, you have a lot of experience in this regard. And, look, if I’m a brand, and I’m the type of person when I order something online, I don’t really care if I get an unboxing experience. I don’t really care if it comes in just a plain brown box, or a poly mailer, or a craft mailer. It doesn’t bother me, but what I do remember an unboxing experience. So while I don’t get turned off of the brands that don’t do it necessarily, I do remember the ones that do. And I’m just wondering how do you make that decision as a growing brand, or maybe just one just starting out, if I’m going to go the simple method or if I’m going to go towards a more unboxing experience?
Robert Escobar: Yeah. I mean, I think that’s a good question and a good topic to talk about. I think a lot of companies out there, specific to what their product is, or their customer is, always has this sense of what that unboxing experience should be. Whether it’s just generic and, to your point, in a brown box or a mailer or something a little more special, a little wow and delight kind of experience as they unbox the product here.
But I think it definitely starts with your customer, know your customer. And, honestly, men look at products and the unboxing experience very different than women and kind of understanding that is a good first step. And then, also trying to surprise and delight them, but also being sensitive to a cost factor. What is this going to cost? Are you giving away this experience at a high premium where you can take that expense and put it in other parts of the business where it’s a better product or better other types of things. So just kind of understanding that is always good first steps, you know?
Brian Weinstein: Yeah. And it’s funny because I start to question, or I start to think about what brands, what types of brands are better off going that unboxing route versus just the simple pack out? I don’t know, is it a category thing? Are you talking about like home goods and health and beauty, maybe, is one way versus fashion is another, consumer products? Does that matter? Does that play into account or is it more about the image, do you think?
Robert Escobar: Yeah, I mean, I like to think that more on the type of soft goods or consumer products tend to kind of work a little better in creating an unboxing experience. And I think a lot has to do with the brand too, and the expectation in terms of how you position that brand. I mean, for example, we know that Apple is like of all, quality and the top is of design and aesthetics and things like that. And so when you go buy a phone, as we all experience this, the box is just, I’m almost guilty of throwing that box away.
Caitlin Postel: See, I’m the opposite. I keep that box forever. What am I doing with that box?
Brian Weinstein: I’ve got a whole room full of those Apple boxes because I feel guilty about throwing them out.
Robert Escobar: Yeah. So, I think kind of really having the brand and the brand DNA kind of drive that in terms of that experience. But I think mostly consumer goods and products that are more geared towards that individual. So, for example, if you’re getting something for somebody else, I mean obviously like it’s a generic product or a household product, maybe not as exciting. But if you’re getting something for yourself that you’re personally going to enjoy, I think the unboxing experience just enhances that all overall, just kind of really highlights that brand and its products.
Brian Weinstein: Yeah. Yeah. For sure. And so we face as a 3PL, people coming for fulfillment, who may be, “So I’m an entrepreneur now. I start my brand. I’m launching it. And I may actually be doing the fulfillment myself.” And now you’ve got these experiences that you’ve tied in almost to the point where it feels like the owner themselves is taking a selfie of themselves, packaging the product and they sign that picture and say, thanks, and put it in the box. Do you run into that a lot where there’s just the expectations of what’s real as you scale goes away?
Robert Escobar: I do. I really do, Brian. That’s a great kind of point you’re making. I have actually customers today that are literally doing that and we’re transitioning them into 3PL’s. To your example, the founders, the husbands, the kids, I heard the other day, they were recruiting a couple of the off the clock to start to pick and pack their orders and do the handwritten thank you notes and things like that. And so, it’s one thing to send out 100 boxes during the week. It’s another thing to send out 1,000 or 5,000 boxes.
So, my advice to them really is, “Okay. Let’s hone in on the experience, that specialness of it, that brand DNA. And let’s see if we can optimize that experience in a kind of efficient, scalable way.” I’ll give you an example, years ago I worked with this company and the owners would personally bow tie in a nice little box. Like they’d create a nice little bow, big red ribbon kind of thing.
Brian Weinstein: Yeah. Yep.
Robert Escobar: But we got up to 20,000 shipments a month and it was really funny because we actually started at the warehouse having everybody tie bows. We quickly found out there, learned that not everybody can tie a great looking bow. But then what we did is we sourced prefab bows in Asia. And the process in the warehouse was just to insert it or tie on the ends on the corners, but the bow was already preassembled. So it was a quick two second thing. So we preserved the experience, but we were able to optimize it and make it in a more productive way. And that would take seconds as opposed to a couple minutes tying a bow. So there’s ways to do it, right?
Brian Weinstein: Yeah. Absolutely.
Caitlin Postel: Yeah. No one wants to see my handwriting on their gift notes. So, that would switch real quick. But, Robert, I heard you say before, wow and delight. And it made me think of an experience that I had personally, when I was purchasing a coffee alternative, a product called MUD/WTR. And when I received my confirmation email, I was really delighted because not only did they include this super cute gif of a little baby dancing, but also a Spotify playlist. And the whole time between, when I got that confirmation email to when the product arrived, they were just engaging me in different ways. Here’s the YouTube video. Here we’re checking in. We’re letting you know. Here’s a note from the owner, from the founder. And then when the box arrived, it was what Brian alluded to before, just a standard box, no frills, not even a packing slip, just the product in a box and that was it. And I wasn’t disappointed at all because the engagement up until that point was so on point and I was wowed and delighted by that. I didn’t really mind that the unboxing experience wasn’t crazy elaborate. Do you see any brands going that route, like alternatives to this unboxing phenomenon that some of these newer, and I mean Kylie Jenner has created. Let’s be honest.
Robert Escobar: Right. No, I mean, Caitlin, I see it that all the time. And I think that really kind of leads more into how brands are being established today by today’s consumers, by millennials and younger. I mean, we really, some of the work that we do is we really hone in on three areas now to really build up a brand which is, in the old days, it was enough just to have a good product, a good reliable product. You know?
Caitlin Postel: Right.
Robert Escobar: But today, we’re seeing that much more. That just gets you into the door, meaning it gets you into the house. And the customer’s like, “Hmm. Okay. I’ll give you a chance.” So when we talked about building brands today, we really look at beyond the product, and now it’s about adding community, right?
What does your community stand for? Your value systems, your principles, because a lot of people want to be aligned with those brands. It was sustainability, environmental issues, other things. And then the third piece, which you just touched on, is creating content. People really want content. And back in the days, like when I was in makeup, for example, cosmetics, we just shipped. Now we create tutorials all the time and we show you how to put that makeup on and how to get different looks.
And so, it does a couple things. It enhances the experience. It makes you feel like you’re part of the community. And from the business side, I’m pulling you in. And because it’s in my best interest, the more you learn about becoming a makeup artist, for example, I’m sure you can relate, like back in the day you joined Nordstrom or Macy’s and the girl would do your makeup. You go home. You’re like, how am I going to do this? But now with the internet, the way it is, you can create all this content and give them a great experience. And even though you ship it in a small box or a mailer, she got to experience your overall brand. Right?
Caitlin Postel: Yeah.
Robert Escobar: And so there’s many things you can do like that. But to your example, I order from one company up by Brooklyn, I think. And I loved it. It was like, when I got my shipping confirmation, there was a YouTube video. And it was certainly like a little fake skit, but it was really funny. It was the two owners of the company picking the order and packing it themselves. I said way, you know?
Caitlin Postel: Yeah.
Robert Escobar: And so it was like a one minute thing, but it was kind of like, “Yeah. That was pretty funny. You know, I enjoyed that.”
Caitlin Postel: Yeah. I think with content comes community. And with community comes a feeling of feeling part of something. And that’s what makes people stick to more than just going after a quality product, to your point, but something to be a part of. Especially now when you’re sitting alone by yourself or hanging out in isolation, in quarantine.
Brian Weinstein: Exactly. And, Robert, I’m going to actually steal this because you’ve brought this up in conversation to me. And I guess this is the approach to scaling, right? Is sort of reverse engineering those positive feelings. And I totally plagiarized that line from you. But there are sometimes, we get things that we’re doing for customers and requests where they want us to put not one pump of perfume, but two pumps of perfume into the box before we send it out. Or they want, to your point, the ribbons. We’ve got a customer that does it great and I always butcher this, it’s called Organza, right?
Caitlin Postel: Organza. Yeah.
Brian Weinstein: This Organza packaging, they make this beautiful kids product and they have this Organza where it’s like this mesh netting that comes up and it’s beautiful. But if the company were to grow past a certain point, it’s probably not sustainable in terms of volume. So the question is, I guess using your line, are there ways that you’re advising companies to reverse engineer those positive feelings, or at least pushing that into a different direction?
Robert Escobar: There is, Brian, and funny that you said it because, I love that you mentioned, I said it because I have been saying this for many years and, at some point, it felt kind of cheesy. But I just wholeheartedly believe in it. But then Amazon started booming in and I had a lot of clients saying, “We can’t compete with Amazon free shipping or returns, all this stuff.” And I said, “No. No. No.” That’s the beautiful thing about this is this reversing engineering the emotions, or mapping out the experience that the customer will have and therefore, that will create emotions, is that you don’t have to compete with companies like Amazon. Let’s just have our own experience. Let’s map it out.
And what it really comes down to, is just mapping out all the touch points that your customer could potentially have with your company, your brand. And creating a process, what that experience will be from the minute that they go on your website. And I always tell people that it really kind of blows my mind. A lot of companies will spend millions and millions of dollars in marketing and customer acquisitions. And then once the customer buys, they get really cheap. There’s no frills, there’s no like funness and the experience is dull. And I always say it should be a little more balanced in terms of the investment and in terms of how your customers experience your product and brands.
So, yeah, what we do is we’ll look at all the touch points, whether it’s from the distribution, shipping out the box to the home, what the box looks like, how the service is executed. We look at being proactive, letting the customer know their order’s on its way. Especially right now, with shipping being delayed across the US because of the pandemic, a lot of our customers are proactively reaching out to their customers and saying, “Hey, it’s going to be an extra two days. We’re sorry.” As opposed to the customer calling and asking where the box is. But all these things, they’re purposely designed to create this emotional connection with the customer so that they’re with you for a long time. They really fall in love with you and what you’re about.
Brian Weinstein: Yeah. That’s awesome. And I think that’s a great way to put it because, and not to beat on Amazon, because obviously they’re a behemoth, but that’s an emotionless transaction for both parties. I mean, we’re both there. We know why we’re there, we’re using one another. So there’s no emotion tie there. You go there, you know, I was at a conference and I forgot how the person described it, it was really perfectly said just the semantics of it. You know, you don’t go to Amazon to shop, you go there to buy. When you go to these other sites, you’re going there to shop, you’re going there for the experience. And, to me, I think part of the reason that brick and mortar has suffered is because they became disconnected from their end customer. And now you have a chance, I think, as a brand, as an entrepreneur that’s launching a brand or even as these brands continue to rise, to not only have them continue to come back and have that brand loyalty, but for you to stay almost personally connected to them through these multiple experiences.
Robert Escobar: Yeah. And I will add though this, because I think a lot of people are probably going to listen to this and kind of take notes and try to come up with this and have that connection. But I will say, it has to be genuine. It has to be sincere. Our consumers, especially nowadays, they’re so smart and they catch onto something fake. You got to be genuine about it. You can go out there and create, or work on creating a unique experience that ties back to an emotional connection, but it has to be genuine from the company because then it’ll backfire and the customer will really feel like you’re trying to dope them a little bit, you know?
Brian Weinstein: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Actually, I probably shouldn’t even be talking about this, but there was an experience that, it was pre-pandemic, that one of the major retailer’s department stores, their CEO was doing these commercials. All of a sudden came out with these commercials, “We want to be here to listen to you.” And, “We want to hear our public.” And it just came across as, so disingenuous.
Caitlin Postel: Disingenuous.
Robert Escobar: Disingenuous. Yeah.
Brian Weinstein: Yeah. And it was just, first of all, when they were talking about it, and then they were showing this experience, and I was like, “Well, you’re catering to the wrong demographics. This is a much older crowd because first of all, you’re on regular TV. You’re on network TV, which no millennial or gen-Z is watching.” So, the audience that they were trying to deliver this message to isn’t even tuned in.
Brian Weinstein: So, to your point, I think you always have to have, be genuine. And even if it is, like you said, a cheesy little 30 second video that you know is pre-made, but it’s funny and you’re out there and you’re just kind of being out there and being vulnerable and being you. I think it’s a great way to convey the company’s culture.
Robert Escobar: Yeah. And I think back to like, Caitlin’s example of that coffee company, a lot of these things are very kind of low cost efforts. You don’t have to go spend tens of thousands of dollars. You don’t have to go hire a huge production company. I work with companies today, and I kid you not, I mean, they’re recording some of these videos on their iPhones and just put it on their Instagram account or their social media platform, whatever they’re using, creating a YouTube video. And it’s like people get it. And I think people relate, you know what I mean? It makes you feel like the company is a person, and the person is very similar to them, right? It’s not this big corporation out there with millions of dollars and just pushing all this marketing stuff out them. It feels very, just very, grounded.
And so, I think that’s why I get excited about with my customers, because it’s like there’s a lot of things we can do to stand out from the big corporations, many, many things. We got to be consistent. We got to have that direct point of view, that brand DNA, so we’re not all over the place. But that helps enhance that emotional connection with the customer and them wanting to come back and see what’s going on with you and buying more things from you and just really being a lifelong customer.
Caitlin Postel: Right. And sometimes less really is more. And I think a common theme that we’ve seen across, speaking with many subject matter experts, is just that point of knowing who your end user is, knowing your customer. Is sustainability a huge thing for them? Is that whole dog and pony show and opening going to be detrimental to the brand? Right?
Robert Escobar: Right. Right.
Brian Weinstein: Well, so we’ve talked about the unboxing experience. You know, you have to be careful, you don’t swing too much to the other side when you make this unboxing experience where all of a sudden you’re getting packaging shamed online, right?
Caitlin Postel: Hello.
Brian Weinstein: You know, we have customers that are calling us and they want to do poly mailers, or they want to do this kind of bubble wrap. And we’re like, “You understand that you’re opening yourself up to getting package shamed.” So you have to be careful with how you go about delivering your product and what you’re using to get it to the customer.
Caitlin Postel: And sometimes it is as simple as a branded brown paper mailer. I was in the Newark facility the other day on Monday, and I saw Gaylord full of these packages that looked so crisp. And maybe I just had a little bit of childhood nostalgia before book socks of where you would wrap your book in that brown paper. But seeing that logo on those packages, and just knowing, now we’re doing more sustainable option where we’re lowering the carbon footprint. I think that resonates with a certain audience and that’s what they want to see is those efforts that makes sense to them as a consumer.
Brian Weinstein: Yeah.
Robert Escobar: Yeah. And I would definitely second that, Caitlin, that’s another area where we’re often asked how should we approach this. And the reality is, because more for the type of clients I have, they’re more small to mid-size companies. They really don’t have a lot of volume or they can really kind of optimize their economy of scale because of their volume. So they can’t push back and go and get, for example, complete recycle products at a good rate and things like that. But we always tell them like, “As long as you’re being genuine and you’re communicating to your community, your customers, about what you’re doing about sustainability.”
I had somebody, for example, that wanted to do that, like you said, Brian, that cut back on all these boxes. And then we came back, we were like, “Hey, we went to your corporate office. Why don’t you just start off with becoming a paperless environment in your office? We saw papers in all the garbage bins. Let’s start there.” That’s genuine, that’s achievable, it’s realistic. You can do that this year. It’s not going to hurt your bottom line. And you can message that. It’s okay to message that we just became a paperless office because we’re trying to do our part. And as you grow in proportion to your size and resources, you can do more. But, again, trying to compete, go extreme on the other side, can financially impact you in a bad way.
Brian Weinstein: Right. Right. For sure. So, Robert, what is the number one trap that you see these young rising companies fall into when they’re working through this customer experience side?
Robert Escobar: Yeah. I mean, I think, like I said before, the number one I would say is them trying to compete with the big companies, the Amazons of the world, specific to whatever their market is or their product lines are. They want to really go toe to toe with these brands. And I understand it because there’s that feeling like, “Hey, free shipping. Everybody’s doing free shipping. No one’s going to buy it from me,” or overnighting or getting delivers in two, three days, or whatever like endless returns. I just always say operate within your lane of what you’re able to do, because there’s no glory in you losing a lot of money and going out of business. That’s not going to… So I would say that’s the number, it’s more of a perception thing, because I think they, as their own, being themselves, being consumers, they kind of get pulled into that.
But, again, what we advise is to become, or search for that unique message or that unique experience that only you and your brand can deliver and so your customer gets more connected. But I would say that, and then the other thing is, as they’re growing, be realistic about, this is more the economic side of the business but also we deal with this a lot, is people being overly optimistic about what things will cost as they start to scale and being way off the charts. I’m sure you guys deal with that all the time, because they come into you guys and they’re like, “What? I thought it was going to be $2.”
Brian Weinstein: Right.
Robert Escobar: You know? And you’re like, “Amazon doesn’t even pay $2 for this.”
Brian Weinstein: Right. Exactly. Exactly. “You wanted us to hand deliver every package. That’s what you said.”
Caitlin Postel: So, stay in your lane and be authentic.
Robert Escobar: Yes.
Caitlin Postel: I can relate as a New Jersey driver here. So…
Robert Escobar: That’s good. That’s good.
Brian Weinstein: That’s awesome. All right. Well, listen, Robert, I really appreciate the time. This has been extremely informative and hopefully our audience is going to take back some lessons from this. You can find Robert Escobar at caminorealgroup.com. There’ll be some links on here and really appreciate it. I’m sure, Robert, we’re going to connect because I know you and I have to have a happy hour episode one of these days.
Robert Escobar: Well, that’s definitely for sure. I can’t wait to come out to the East Coast and have a drink with you guys and get back to some normality. And thanks for having this chat with me too. It’s been a great time.
Brian Weinstein: No. It’s awesome. It’s awesome. Thank you very much. Caitlin, you want to take us out?
Caitlin Postel: Thanks for tuning in, everybody. Make sure that you check us out on sippinandshippin.com or any of your favorite podcast platforms. Give us a thumbs up and go ahead and subscribe to meet us here every third Thursday.
Brian Weinstein: Wait, where?
Caitlin Postel: Sippinandshippin.com. You can go to Apple podcast. Maybe you want to listen to us on Spotify. We’re everywhere.
Brian Weinstein: Is there any G’s at the end of the Sippin’ & Shippin’?
Caitlin Postel: Leave your G’s at home. No G’s. No G’s here.
Brian Weinstein: No G’s, just old G’s. Thanks for tuning in everybody. Take care.